Officials: watches can keep Selma safe

Published 7:28 pm Saturday, August 23, 2014

City council president Corey Bowie is looking to take on crime with a little help from Selma residents.

Bowie said he is pushing neighborhoods to create neighborhood watch programs to help police officers spot problems and cut down on the overall crime rate. He said the idea arose because Selma residents continually asked about the watch programs at ward and community meetings.

“At times, we put the blame game on not having enough police officers,” he said. “But, if we want to take our neighborhoods back, we definitely need to work with the police department. We have been promoting neighborhood watch for the last few years, but the community just hasn’t been embracing it.”

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Chief of police William Riley said he has also noticed many local residents asking about how to create a neighborhood watch program. Selmont residents, with the creation of a concerned citizens council, have particularly been interested in creating a watch program lately, Riley said.

“When you have got more eyes looking out for a neighborhood it’s a win-win for everybody,” he said. “If people just decide to take control, it’s very easy to fight crime. The key is for residents to take initiative.”

Bowie said he has also heard complaints about crime from residents in Wards 5 and 6, but in some cases, he said people are apathetic about crime or are scared to report crime.

“People are just walking up the street with big TVS and no one ever says anything,” he said. “If we can establish more neighborhood watch programs, it would take care of some of the apathy in the community.”

Riley explained that Selma residents shouldn’t be worried about his or her name being used when police officers confront criminals.

“We are dispatched through the county,” he said.  “They won’t give out names. There is really no reason why we would need to.”

Riley suggested that any neighborhood group or Selma resident who is interested in starting a watch group to call Sgt. Natasha Fowlkes, who is in charge of community policing, at (334) 874-6894.